Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CHILD AND HIND, by THOMAS CAMPBELL



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE CHILD AND HIND, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Come, maids and matrons, to caress
Last Line: Wiesbaden's gentle hind.
Subject(s): Children; Deer; Legends, German; Wiesbaden, Germany; Childhood


COME, maids and matrons, to caress
Wiesbaden's gentle hind;
And, smiling, deck its glossy neck
With forest flowers entwined.

Your forest flowers are fair to show,
And landscapes to enjoy;
But fairer is your friendly doe
That watched the sleeping boy.

'T was after church -- on Ascension day --
When organs ceased to sound,
Wiesbaden's people crowded gay
The deer-park's pleasant ground.

There, where Elysian meadows smile,
And noble trees upshoot,
The wild thyme and the chamomile
Smell sweetly at their root;

The aspen quivers nervously,
The oak stands stilly bold --
And climbing bindweed hangs on high
His bells of beaten gold.

Nor stops the eye till mountains shine
That bound a spacious view,
Beyond the lordly, lovely Rhine,
In visionary blue.

There, monuments of ages dark
Awaken thoughts sublime;
Till, swifter than the steaming bark,
We mount the stream of time.

The ivy there old castles shades
That speak traditions high
Of minstrels, tournaments, crusades,
And mail-clad chivalry.

Here came a twelve years' married pair --
And with them wandered free
Seven sons and daughters, blooming fair,
A gladsome sight to see.

Their Wilhelm, little innocent,
The youngest of the seven,
Was beautiful as painters paint
The cherubim of Heaven.

By turns he gave his hand, so dear,
To parent, sister, brother;
And each, that he was safe and near,
Confided in the other.

But Wilhelm loved the field-flowers bright,
With love beyond all measure;
And culled them with as keen delight
As misers gather treasure.

Unnoticed, he contrived to glide
Adown a greenwood alley,
By lilies lured, that grew beside
A streamlet in the valley;

And there, where under beech and birch
The rivulet meandered,
He strayed, till neither shout nor search
Could track where he had wandered.

Still louder, with increasing dread,
They called his darling name;
But 'twas like speaking to the dead --
An echo only came.

Hours passed till evening's beetle roams,
And blackbird's songs begin;
Then all went back to happy homes,
Save Wilhelm's kith and kin.

The night came on -- all others slept
Their cares away till morn;
But sleepless, all night watched and wept
That family forlorn.

Betimes the town crier had been sent
With loud bell, up and down;
And told th' afflicting accident
Throughout Wiesbaden's town:

The father, too, ere morning smiled,
Had all his wealth uncoffered;
And to the wight would bring his child
A thousand crowns had offered.

Dear friends, who would have blushed to take
That guerdon from his hand,
Soon joined in groups -- for pity's sake,
The child-exploring band.

The news reached Nassau's Duke: ere earth
Was gladdened by the lark,
He sent a hundred soldiers forth
To ransack all his park.

Their side-arms glittered through the wood,
With bugle-horns to sound; --
Would that on errand half so good
The soldier oft were found!

But though they roused up beast and bird
From many a nest and den,
No signal of success was heard
From all the hundred men.

A second morning's light expands,
Unfound the infant fair;
And Wilhelm's household wring their hands,
Abandoned to despair.

But, haply, a poor artisan
Searched ceaselessly, till he
Found safe asleep the little one,
Beneath a beechen tree.

His hand still grasped a bunch of flowers;
And (true, though wondrous) near,
To sentry his reposing hours,
There stood a female deer --

Who dipped her horns at all that passed
The spot where Wilhelm lay;
Till force was had to hold her fast,
And bear the boy away.

Hail! sacred love of Childhood -- hail!
How sweet it is to trace
Thine instinct in Creation's scale,
Ev'n 'neath the human race.

To this poor wanderer of the wild
Speech, reason were unknown --
And yet she watched a sleeping child
As if it were her own;

And thou, Wiesbaden's artisan,
Restorer of the boy,
Was ever welcomed mortal man
With such a burst of joy?

The father's ecstacy -- the mother's
Hysteric bosom's swell;
The sisters' sobs -- the shout of brothers,
I have not power to tell.

The working man, with shoulders broad,
Took blithely to his wife
The thousand crowns; a pleasant load,
That made him rich for life.

And Nassau's Duke the favorite took
Into his deer-park's centre,
To share a field with other pets,
Where deer-slayer can not enter.

There, whilst thou cropp'st thy flowery food,
Each hand shall pat thee kind;
And man shall never spill thy blood --
Wiesbaden's gentle hind.





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